Mainland dominates planning
The medium- to long-term strategy for most accountancy firms operating in Hong Kong hinges on one predominant theme.
"China figures very much in our future planning," says Clement Chan, FCPA (Aust), managing partner at BDO Hong Kong. "We see growth coming from the mainland market, but not just for assurance [audit], due diligence and capital raising work."
Chan foresees plenty of opportunity to advise mainland enterprises engaged in outbound mergers and acquisition activity. This is a natural development for an increasingly mature market and mirrors the continuing inward investment by Hong Kong and overseas companies in the mainland's still mushrooming economy.
"The strategy is to enhance relationships with our China-affiliated firms and build solid teams to provide seamless services with the same work standards and deliverables," Chan says. "In today's accounting world, we have to keep pushing for the quality work that fits into our firm's risk profile."
He notes that while assurance work remains a consistent revenue generator, it is also important to focus attention on risk advisory and non-assurance services. To some extent, this is market-driven.
But, in taking on non-assurance projects, the firm is mindful of the changing landscape of rules and regulations and of how the concept of independent advice is evolving.
"One has to be spot on when faced with opportunities for non-assurance services because, otherwise, you might compromise your independence as an auditor," Chan says. "It is something you can manage, but along the way you have to make commercial decisions." With the firm's internal plan calling for steady expansion, this year's budget makes provision to take on 50 to 70 staff.
Other potential recruits with various levels of professional experience will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
"The primary goal is to recruit young, energetic, like-minded professionals to join our firm," Chan says.
"We may do some first interviews at the CPA Australia 'Global Opportunities - Career Market Day' which will lead to the formal recruitment process."